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Judge dismisses Oregon bus crash lawsuit

| Jul 5, 2013 | Civil Litigation |

A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit against an Oregon bus driver and her employer, granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, filed by a group of plaintiffs in response to a 2010 bus crash that left two Portland pedestrians dead and injured three others, asserting that it failed to show that the accident violated the victims’ constitutional rights. It is unclear whether the plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision or pursue additional civil litigation. Multiple lawsuits initiated by the families of the two deceased victims remain pending in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

The fatal crash at the center of the case occurred on an April night in 2010 when the defendant reportedly made an illegal turn across lanes and into a crosswalk, and then slammed into five pedestrians with her 16-ton bus. Two of those individuals, both age 26, were killed in the accident while the remaining three individuals suffered injuries.

The next year, the woman was convicted on four counts of careless driving and other traffic offenses. The bus company that employed the driver terminated her after conducting an investigation into the incident, which also prompted a large-scale internal safety review. The lawsuits contend that the firm routinely encourages its drivers to make illegal turns like the one that caused the 2010 accident and operate their buses in a generally unsafe manner. The company is also accused of failing to address blind spots for its shorter drivers, creating unnecessarily unsafe situations for riders, motorists and pedestrians.

According to the recently rejected claim, the defendants are guilty of the “arbitrary government taking” of the victims’ lives. It adds that the driver’s negligent actions effectively violated the victims’ “fundamental rights.” The judge overseeing the case ultimately disagreed, dismissing the case “in its entirety.”

The bus company’s release of the driver has also been challenged by the Amalgamated Transit Union. According to a recent press release, that dispute is currently “awaiting arbitration.”

Source: Oregon Live, “Judge throws out federal lawsuit against TriMet and bus driver Sandi Day” Stuart Tomlinson, Jun. 28, 2013